Source: Sup China (11/2/17)
Sycophants in parent-teacher WeChat groups
By Jiayun Feng
“This is nothing new. When I was a kid, my parents sent gifts to teachers just to make sure I was taken good care of. The only thing new about this phenomenon is that we now have WeChat, which makes it easier for parents to flatter teachers.”
“Here is my simple solution. Instead of wasting my time on these groups, I just give cash and presents to teachers in private. No one would decline money. This is the reality you need to accept.”
— From Weibo (in Chinese)
Few things are more excruciating than being a parent in China. You need to risk your health to help your kid with their homework. You are very likely to spend a large chunk of your income on a variety of extravagant summer student programs. Meanwhile, to prevent discrimination against your child, you can’t afford to lag behind when it comes to flattering their teachers, both online and off.
In a recent post (in Chinese) that was widely circulated on Chinese social media, a Chinese parent said he was kicked out of a WeChat parents’ group after complaining about the unfair treatment that his kid had received: “My second-grade son, the shortest child in the class, has been placed in the last row of the classroom since his first year at school,” the father wrote. “I was told that only by sending gifts to the class teacher can I get a good seat for my kid.”
The post sparked a large wave of discussions about the necessity of online parents’ groups and ethics in education. Such groups are created with the aim of boosting communication between parents and teachers, but often turn into an inconvenience: Parents are faced with peer pressure to court teachers with excessive thank-yous and gifts, while teachers feel obliged to answer questions and requests from parents 24/7.
To better regulate online channels connecting schools and families, the Education Bureau of Jingan District in Shanghai recently released a notice that bans any form of ads, campaigns for votes, or public announcements of test scores in WeChat parents’ groups.